Monday, August 22, 2016

Printing, quilting and completing bits and pieces.

block, stencil, thermofax and gelliplate prints
I had a lot of fun with the MEG group on Friday when I organised a print workshop for them. We played with my gelliplate, stencils, home made blocks and wooden blocks, my thermofax screens too. I took in all three of my print boards and a couple of easels to make an extra table. 
The photo above shows the collection of prints I managed to achieve during the day. It will be interesting to see the collection of prints made by the rest of the group. It was a really friendly session with not a lot of chat, since everyone was concentrating on whatever they were working on. Thanks everyone.

House 1 - now finished.

Butterfly block now complete.
As you can see, I have been finishing things off over the past few days. The first of the house blocks is now quilted and bound. I think I just need to add a bugle bead for the door handle.
The butterfly block doesn't quite feel finished. I think it needs some more stitching, but will have to wait until I decide exactly what is required. A few butterflies would be nice.

knitted waistcoat under way.
I also got started with the knitted waistcoat. I do love the way the pattern grows under my fingers. Yes, that is a small pocket. I shall be adding the edging at a later stage. It seems to have been missed out of the pattern, but is shown quite clearly in the photograph. It shouldn't be a problem to recreate.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Stitching , knitting and plans

My silk/cotton blouse found in a charity shop
 This lovely blouse was a lucky find earlier this year in a charity shop. I haven't worn it yet since I need to remake the sleeves. They are double layered and hang badly. My plan is to take the sleeves apart and to turn the inside layer into a cuff for the bottom of what should be a full elbow length sleeve. It shouldn't take long to achieve, but there seem to be rather a lot of other things that need to be finished first....... Gardening and cleaning my car currently head the list.

The back detail
This next item is one of those that I really need to get finished before too long. It is a set of pieces to make a butterfly block. A challenge from one of the groups I belong to - Alsager Creative Stitchers. It was a project that was the theme of their July meeting. Since I couldn't attend, I was given the block to finish at home.

On Saturday I went along to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. Such fun to meet up with friends again. There are some people I only seem to meet at the Festival. It is always a fascinating experience visiting the show, seeing so many amazing quilts, meeting friends, making new friends. So much to see and do. So many ideas beginning to develop.

This was most of my haul. There is some fabric which I cannot show here since it will become part of the NWCQ challenge which I am leading. I'll explain all about that another time since it should be a lot of fun. 
I've only shown one of my bundles of fabric from Empress Mills. I bought two. These are invaluable for my dyeing and printing. They are made up of a beautiful, tight woven cotton which is a joy to sew into. You can see some of the pieces drying on my washing line. My two bundles, when washed occupied all but half of one side. That last bit was used by a gorgeous piece of jersey found on a really interesting stand at the show. I bought the pattern there too. 
The Steam a Seam was free, as was a reel of cotton from Mettler. Being pink, it might not see any use for a while, but is bound to come in useful.The beautiful little zipped bag was won on the Tombola. It was made by Helen Butcher and will be used to house my new collection of quilt clips. You can see them peeping out at the top of the photo. I have one set of red and another of blue. I bought some more of the cotton sheets for my inkjet printer. I ran out recently, just when I really needed some more.....
Apart from some items for printing and dyeing, and thread too, there is a set of "Do it yourself markers" which I am looking forward to playing with. Apparently I should be able to use these to soak up colour, using them like a marker pen. I do like new toys.....

I managed to finish my cardigan, adding the buttons this afternoon. Why did I finish this on a really hot day so that I really don't fancy trying it on? I started this particular cardigan some months ago, abandoning it at one stage when I needed to get on with other projects. It is a pattern by Martin Storey for Jaeger, printed back in 2004. The design is called Lucille.

Ah well. I treated myself to some really nice yarn today whilst I was in the Wool Shop. It is a dangerous place to visit, especially when buying buttons armed with a collection of patterns. This is a soft Acrylic/ Bamboo mix. The pattern is from a Jaeger pattern book which is over ten years old. I've always loved this waistcoat pattern, so it will be nice to start this later.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A house in a day, quilting and other things

Completed cotbed quilt
It has been rather busy here since I last wrote anything to the blog. My apologies for that. I have been busily quilting the cotbed quilt and also completing the cushion to go with it. These are for a very special baby who came to visit last weekend. She went home with the quilt and also the cushion. Her mum and dad were, I am very pleased to say,delighted with them.

Completed quilt with the cushion
The quilt size is designed to fit a cotbed rather than a cot since that is what the baby will be using when she is a little older. At just four weeks old at the time of writing this, her mum is more likely to use the cushion for the moment.
View of the quilting on the reverse of the cotbed quilt
I never know whether I overdo the free machine embroidery. However, since I enjoy stitching it it is probably okay........ what do you think?

Completed cardigan
This cardigan also got finished during the weekend. I had left the crochet edging until the very last minute since I wasn't that confident about doing it. I had to grab the cardigan back, briefly, to get a photo of it whilst the baby was being changed. The mum really liked it. Can't say that the baby was too impressed. Free design by Martin Storey called "Elly".

Closeup showing the crochet edge
I've also started putting together some pages for a book I need to complete for an exhibition in October. I'd better get this done before I get involved in anything else.

The pieces started as a Chinese Whispers challenge. Such fun. The idea is that each person taking part finds a photograph. This photo is not to be shared with anyone taking part. This is my photo. It was taken during a visit to Hong Kong back in 1998. The dragon carving was one of a pair of temple lantern holders.
Original photograph
I next made a textile piece, A5 size (8.25" x 5.75") based on this photograph. This was then passed to the next person in the group, Anita.

Chinese dragon - my design
Anita then completed her own interpretation of my piece, returning my design back to me.

Japanese lettering and fireworks - Anita
Her piece then went on to Meryl, who made her own interpretation of Anita's piece. Part of the challenge was that we were not allowed to show anyone any of the pieces during the course of the challenge. We couldn't chat about it either, to anyone taking part.

Chinese acrobats - Meryl
Meryl's piece was then passed to Glenice, whilst Anita's interpretation of my piece was passed back to me.
More acrobats - Glenice
Glenice passed her completed piece to Minnie while Meryl's version was handed on to me.

Circus acts - Minnie
Minnie was the last person in our group. She completed her version and then handed both Glenice's version and her version back to me at the final exchange meeting. We then all showed our little collections to everyone, disclosing the original photos at the same time.
Although I have only written about my own theme, I should explain that everyone was collecting work for their own themes. 
Here are the pieces I made for each of the other members of the group. In all, we had three groups working at the same time. We should have fifteen books to show at the exhibition. 

"Music" - made for Minnie
Accidentally dyed fabric with silk scraps appliqued in place. Free machine embroidery and couching. The white threads show the outer edges of the A5 shape.

"Garden" - made for Glenice
 The background fabric was printed onto cotton sheet using my computer. It was a scan of a piece of paper which had been painted with acrylics. Free machine embroidery and quilting over silk scraps appliqued to the surface. The faint white stitches delineate the A5 edges.
"Fairground" - made for Meryl
 My own printed fabric with thermofax and stencils over a piece of cloth originally used to mop up spills of dye. Free machine embroidery of the figures.
"Celebration" - made for Anita
The background is a piece of silk which I had dyed. Silk and satin pieces appliqued over free machine embroidery. The strings are couched in place.

Lastly, the "Build a house in a day" challenge which Pinfold members took part in earlier this week. Needless to say the basic house was completed during the session, but the stitching took rather longer. I still haven't quite finished it.

 I still need to stitch the tree and tree trunk. The idea came from this bag which I found in the latest edition of "Love Sewing". Still not sure whether this will turn into a cushion or a wall hanging.

Monday, July 25, 2016


Quilt design by Katy Jones in Love Sewing issue 28
This is the design I saw which set me off making the cot bed quilt I am currently working on. You will have seen the top in my last post, here. The layers have all now been pinned together. The backing is a piece of plain calico. I use those bent safety pins. I had to buy a third pack to add to my collection and still ran out! My fingers are still quite sore from sticking the pins into the quilt layers. I do feel that it is well worth the effort since the layers do not get a chance to move.

This photo shows the pinned layers along with a sample of the wallpaper from the baby's bedroom. There is also a wall painted in buttercup yellow, hence the colours chosen for this quilt. The parents seem very happy with it all so far, I'm relieved to say.

Sample square constructed to test out the quilting patterns.
I've also made a small sample to test out the quilting patterns since the stitching will be visible on both sides of the quilt. Beneath, you will see the completed sample fully quilted and the reverse of the same sample.

The sample will be turned into a cushion cover since this may well prove a useful addition to the bedroom chair.

I'm planning to get started with the quilt as soon as I finish writing this entry to my Blog. The parents are planning to come to visit at the beginning of next month, so I don't have much time.......

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Still dreaming and stitching

Solar dyeing kits outside my workroom
I eventually got the solar dyeing kits under way. I wrote about my dyeing experiences on that day here. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to the fabrics. I've used silk fabric, silk thread, cotton organdie, butter muslin and wool slub.

Solar kit labels
You can see the colours I should be able achieve on the packaging shown above. Do get in touch with Helen Melvin if you find yourselves in North Wales. She is an inspirational dyer.

A gift from Japan
My dear husband met up with a Japanese gentleman recently. They worked together on a project in Japan some years ago. He came home with some little gifts for me. I love the little fabric horned sheep. It has a scented sachet inside a slit in the back.

More gifts from Japan
If you look closely, the little scented sachets are tied with little sheep. So sweet.

Woven quilt top under way
There has been sewing. I have been steadily working on this quilt top. It will eventually be a quilt for a cotbed. A first quilt for a new baby. There are borders to add now that I know the size I need to work to.

Lily in the sunshine
It has been so warm lately that getting to work in my workroom has been left until the cooler hours. It leaves me time to daydream amongst the flowers in the garden. I just love the juxtaposition of the colours. How many of us would actually put pink and orange together and yet it works.

Garden flowers
I find myself deciding what projects I need to do and organise the sequence when I daydream these days. I just can't stop my brain working on ideas even when I am physically doing nothing. You've already seen a couple of the projects I fully intend to finish before too long. I showed these in my last post. More hours in each day would certainly be useful.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

More projects ready to go.

My dress got finished quite quickly after my last post here, but then had to be washed since it ended up with a mark on the front....... my own clumsiness, I expect. It now hangs in my wardrobe ready to be worn.

Today I spent some time getting some more projects cut out ready for sewing. They have all coem from a couple of magazines I bought recently - both copies of "Love Sewing".

The first is this top, using some shiny fabric I bought on impulse some years ago. It is a soft jersey and should suit this design. It is the first of a couple of jersey tops which I shall be making.

The next is this rather useful looking bag. I do love project bags. A useful gift if not something to use. I can't help feeling that I have rather a lot of bags already. I couldn't resist this one. The fabrics are also from my extensive stash.

This second top can also be found in the new "Great British Sewing Bee" book, "From Stitch to Style". I actually got a copy of the book when I took out a subscription to the magazine. There are some interesting designs in the book alongside the patterns. I'm looking forward to trying some of them out. The BBC website about this programme can be found here.

These are the magazines I've got. I've enjoyed reading them too. You can find out about the magazine here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Spending some creative time with my sewing machine and other projects.

Where have the past few days gone? It has been really busy here - a new print board has been put together, four cushion covers, a simple top, some zipped bag/purses and a new print board have all been finished and I have nearly completed a new linen dress for myself. I haven't bought any new fabric, just a couple of zips. Everything has been constructed out of my rather large stash of fabrics, threads and general "stuff". I wish I could say that my cupboards and shelves are less full as a result, but I really cannot see a difference just yet.
the felt layers of the new print board
 I decided to make a third print board since I shall be giving a print workshop in August and my two current boards will not be sufficient. I can improvise some extra space, but the third board will just make everything so much easier for everyone.
All three boards together
It was so lucky that I had plenty of acrylic felt and enough of an old cotton sheet in my stash to be able to complete this project. The board had seen occasional use as a drawing board, but will be so much more useful to me as an additional printing surface.

I'd completely forgotten, until I sorted through my photos, that I'd also been to a dyeing session. This time I followed some advice I found on the Kemshall's website about preparing fabric for dyeing. The resulting colours have been so much better, I shall definitely do this again. The advice gave specific quantities for the washing soda used in preparing the fabric for procian dyeing. I now have a solution in a sealed pot ready in the garden shed for when we next have some good weather and I can prepare some more cotton. I hadn't realised that the solution could be kept and used again and again.

 These cushions were not started by me. They were handed in at the last Pinfold meeting and I volunteered to construct the cushion covers. They are now ready for the cushion tombola which will be part of the group's exhibition later this year. The covers have been hand embroidered and look so beautiful. Each cushion is just twelve inches square. I hope that the embroiderer will be pleased when she sees them again.

Speaking of tombolas. This collection of zipped purses have been made for The Quilters' Guild tombola at Festival of Quilts in August. So far I have made nine, but I have a couple more which have been cut out ready to sew together.

Yet another cushion for the Pinfold tombola. This one started life as a miniature quilt block challenge which has been stuck in my unfinished pile for a very long time. It is twenty inches across.

the dress waiting to be finished
 The dressmaking patterns were found in a recent edition of Ottobre magazine. The dress still has to have the armhole facings stitched into place and also the hems completed. I really need to iron it too. It has been fully lined.
a completed top
The top is going to be rather useful in the warmer weather. It was made from a piece of crepe de chine I had in my stash.

So apologies for not having posted here for a few days. I have been rather busy. I still haven't started those cotbed quilts.........